The USAID Artisanal Mining and Property Rights (AMPR) project addresses the complex land and resource issues around artisanal and small-scale mining in a multi-disciplinary fashion with a focus on diamond and gold production in the Central African Republic (CAR). The 5-year project (2018-2023) consists of 4 components: improving compliance with the Kimberley Process, strengthening community resilience through peace-building and economic activities with women, increasing understanding of the country’s gold sector, and improving USAID programming through targeted technical assistance.
USAID AMPR’s Intermediate Result 1.2 aims at expanding formalization of land and resource rights in artisanal diamond mining communities through piloting a territorial management and community development framework revolving around the concept of Zone d’exploitation artisanale (ZEA). The ZEA is foreseen in CAR’s 2009 mining law for demarcating an area reserved for artisanal mining but has never been applied in practice. Since the project’s inception in 2018, USAID AMPR has engaged with government and community stakeholders on how to pilot the use of ZEAs to improve the formalization of production and trade, promote local development, reduce land conflicts among miners and improve environmental management.
The current strategic document summarizes the results of these discussions and sets forth the orientations for the project’s collaboration with the government to establish 2 pilot ZEAs. The strategy builds upon several studies conducted during the first year of project implementation, including one focused on the root causes of increased diamond smuggling. The resulting action plan to combat smuggling adopted by the government includes the ZEA pilot as an activity. Another study focused on the feasibility of restarting customary land rights certification for miners that began under the predecessor USAID project Property Rights and Artisanal Diamond Development (PRADD). Furthermore, in its first year AMPR hired a consultant to study the feasibility of adapting a co-management model between villages and the government successfully implemented in Côte d’Ivoire, and also engaged reflections on how land-use planning can be integrated into a territorial approach to mineral governance.
In the project’s second year, a joint project-government expert working group was set up to consider the conclusions of these studies and further refine the project’s strategy for the ZEA pilot. Several field missions were organized to areas identified as having good potential for the pilot efforts, mainly, SCED-Ndéléngué near Nola and Sangouma / Sama II near Carnot, both in Western CAR. As a result of these missions and reflections, the team began clarifying the legal form of the ZEA, its management structure, mandate, and other measures. Due to security considerations, the process in Sangouma / Sama II was put on hold in early 2020. However, the present document offers a relatively complete picture for the strategy for SCED-Ndéléngué, summarized as follows:
Legal form and management structure
The ZEA in SCED-Ndéléngué will be designated by ministerial decree. The management will take place at three levels. The management committee (CGZEA) will provide high-level oversight and coordination consisting of local government officials and community / miner representatives. A local development committee (CDL) will oversee the generation and use of funds, both from mining and non-mining activities, and create a platform for all actors to coordinate and collaborate, including women’s groups supported by AMPR and a community forest managed as part of an agreement with a forestry concession (SINFOCAM). The ZEA will be further sub-divided into three blocs that correspond to miner hamlets located along three different watersheds. An existing miner association will be further strengthened and formalized. The miner association will have separate chapters per bloc and will be represented both on the CDL and the CGZEA. As such the management structure creates a separate but collaborative framework between community leaders, miners, and local government officials.
Property rights strengthening
The Certificats de droit de propriété coutumière issued to miners under PRADD (2007-2013) are still used by miners to assert ownership and resolve disputes. However, their lack of legal basis in CAR mining or land law was a key challenge unresolved under PRADD. The ZEA pilot will provide a partial solution by requiring that all mining claims be identified in the ZEA ministerial decree. Per the AMPR study on the certificates, a new term will be coined: Attestation locale de reconnaissance de parcelle minière. These will be co-signed by the CGZEA, miner association and local customary leaders. A transaction registry will also be established and managed by the miner association and/or local chief. These documents can also be used to prove ownership and require compensation in case of industrial or semi-industrial mining in the area, given that these rights supersede artisanal mining rights in CAR law.
Strengthening legal production and trade
Miners will be encouraged to acquire all legal documents for working, and miner associations will play a role in monitoring compliance. While the mining law technically requires artisanal miners to get a permit called Autorisation d’exploitation artisanale (AEA), the initiative will not require miners to get this license, which has been rarely applied in practice. However, miners will be encouraged to get their professional license (patente) and fill their production notebook. During rollout, AMPR will use behavioral change communication to convince miners of the need to get their patente, but as the pilot progresses, stronger incentives will be employed such as making access to equipment rental pools contingent on having a valid patente. The miner association will also play a role in tracking and estimating production through periodic surveys of miners as well as buyers (including informal débrouillards), and will require special sales sessions for large stones, defined in CAR as greater than 4.80 carats. The pre-existing local self-defense groups will also be used by the miner associations to monitor sites. The miner association will be a liaison with mining officials including the mining police, Unité spéciale anti-fraude (USAF), with efforts to reduce the role of USAF, which is often a source of conflict and abuse.
Generating funds for local development
Per feasibility studies, it was not deemed practical in CAR’s socio-economic context to require public sales sessions and fixed percentages for all production due to a lack of trust, poor transparency and fractured customary control. Instead the miner association will determine if and how to generate funds, and how to allocate them, ranging from strengthening equipment pools to providing social benefits to members or contributing to village development projects. This voluntary system is in line with existing practice in several CAR communities. However, AMPR will seek to institute a more structured process for larger stones (>4.80 carats) which are often the subject of informal taxation by local officials and community leaders. The bylaws of the CGZEA will determine if and how a fixed percentage will be applied and a distribution formula between the CGZEA, miner association and CDL. This could help generate funds and also formalize existing corrupt practices around large stones. Finally, the CDL will have the latitude to raise funds from other sources, including women’s economic groups, the nearby national park, and the timber concession.
The rural commune of Nola recently adopted a land-use and development plan, which includes SCED-Ndéléngué. The CDL will be the entity in charge of further sub-zoning and setting usage rules. For example, the nearby national park, Aires protégées de Dzanga-Sangha (APDS), has urged the creation of a 500-meter buffer zone between miners and the park. The CDL will help set those rules, which would then be further enforced by the miner association and the CGZEA. In addition, the CDL may set additional rules with respect to pastoralist corridors in collaboration with other relevant local structures like the pastoralist platform created by AMPR in Nola. In this way the ZEA will provide an impetus for further land-use planning and local rule-setting around natural resources.
Technical assistance to miners
In order to incentivize participation in the ZEA pilot, USAID AMPR will provide technical assistance to the miner association in collaboration with sister projects Projet Gouvernance de l’Or et de Diamants en Centrafrique (GODICA) and Appui à la professionnalisation des coopératives minières (APCM), funded by the European Union (EU) and World Bank, respectively. Equipment rental pools will be established for each of the three blocs of the ZEA managed by the relevant chapters of the miner association, which may evolve towards a miner cooperative with the help of APCM. Trainings on prospection and SMARTER (Sustainable Mining by Artisanal Miners) mining techniques will be organized. Finally, AMPR will re-establish an evaluation center for the association to analyze stones and compare to world market prices. This will be especially important for the mechanism for larger stones.
Timeline for implementation
Following the adoption of this strategy by the joint technical working group, as well as by relevant Ministry of Mines and Geology (MMG) officials, further community consultations will take place before the signing of the ZEA decree and the start of implementation. The AMPR field agents and rural development specialists will be in charge of implementation, which will consist of developing bylaws and statutes for the various management entities and supporting the implementation of monitoring and technical assistance measures. The goal will be to have the ZEA under full implementation by the end of Year 3 of the AMPR project in order to assess the relevance of scaling up.